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From Russia with Love
NOTE: This is an archive article. For an updated and expanded Moscow article click DailyXtraTravel
"Russia and gay. Moscow and gay. Neither of them mix," laughed my gay
cousin, Bernard. Bernard was confused as to why, out of anywhere in
Europe, I had chosen to vacation in Russia...
here to continue reading the feature article by Paul Rubio in our April 2010 issue.
A sampling of listings for Moscow follows. Many of the websites are Russian-only, but some are in English, especially those of hotels and restaurants. See the websites of "Info and resources" below, for English-language reviews, and gay English-speaking guide referrals. Once in Moscow the hotels with multi-lingual staff may be helpful with language difficulties, and in pointing you in the right direction.
Moscow Gay Bars/Clubs
12 Volt Club (oulitsa Tverskaya 12, building 4) lesbian-owned and straight-friendly cafe/bar with DJ music, good food and pleasant vibe.
69 Club (oulitsa Rozanova 4; Metro: Begovaya) six room dance club and lounge, each room named for it's color; dancing, no cover charge, reasonable (by Moscow standards) beer prices, open daily 7pm to 6am.
Baza (Milyutinskiy pereulok 6; Metro: Lubyanka) small mixed boisterous music and show pub, open 10pm to 6am.
Body & Soul infamously closed by authorities, reopened at new location, but soon closed down again.
Propaganda (Bolshoy/ Zlatoustinskiy 7; Metro: Kitay Gorod), intimate lounge with a small sunken dance floor and adjoining chill-out spaces; cosmopolitan and fashion-conscious mix of Russians, expats and tourists. Unofficial Sunday gay tea-dance from 10pm.
Tsifi (Glinischevskiy pereulok 3; Metro: Pushkinslaya) name means "digits" formerly 911 Club, small basement bar, daytime cafe for lunch, with dancing Thursdays through Saturdays, late-night erotic shows.
Secret (Nizhniy Susalny pereulok 7, Bldg 8; Metro: Kurskaya), dance and show club, young mixed crowd, sexy go-go boys.
Three Monkeys / New Age Club (Nastavnichevskiy pereulok 11, Bldg 1; Metro: Kurskaya/Chkalovskaya), three floors of bars, dancing, outside cafe in summer months, for handsome crowd of mostly 18-30 year-old men. Biggest night on Fridays, open late.
Moscow Gay Saunas
Russian banya are basic and traditional features of life here, for the relief of all that ails a body, and the spirit too. Birch branch beatings, cold plunges after hot sweats, massage, and of course vodka figured in long sessions getting away from a frigid world; sometimes all-male, often mixed. Villages had communal saunas, families often have their own, and city authorities of all regimes constructed them in every neighborhood.
The traditional establishments are often discreetly sexual, but the newer gay saunas are more blatant, much like those of Europe and America.
Mayakovka Spa (Oruzheynyl pereulok 13, bldg.2) the first western-style gay sauna, free for under 24 year-olds, bar, porn screenings, jacuzzi and steam room.
Thermas Sauna (oulitsa Sadovaya Spasskaya 18/1) central location, pool, steam, solarium, restaurant and bar, private rooms, some of the sex action here is commercial.
Voda (Bolshoi Savinskiipereoulok 12, bldg 3) large, clean, popular facility with pool, workout area, steam and dry sauna; good-looking young crowd, sex in the labyrinth and steams rooms.
These are general-public hotels/hostels chosen for proximity to the gay scene, and for a good range of prices. The country phone code for Russia is 007.
Ararat Park Hyatt Hotel (Neglinnaya St 4, Meshchansky; 495-783-1234) world-class, residential style hotel in central Moscow, within immediate vicinity of the Bolshoi Theatre, minutes walk from Red Square, and central business district.
Comrade Hostel (Maroseyka St 11, 3rd fl; 495-628-3126) three minutes from the metro in historic Kitai Gorod near Red Square and Moscow River, surrounded by cafes, restaurants, stores and clubs. Two hundred year-old building fully refurbished, dorm rooms with bunk beds, free internet access, cozy common room and kitchen access.
Godzillas Hostel (Bolshoi Karetnyy 6; 495-699-4223) largest hostel in Moscow, English/American management, single, twin, triple rooms and 4-10 bed dorms; 24-hour reception, no curfew, internet cafe, multi-lingual and helpful staff.
Golden Apple Boutique Hotel (Malaya Dmitrovka 11; 495-980-7000), five-stars, 92 rooms, elegant, comfortable, with business facilities and health club 24 hours a day.
Hilton Moscow Leningradskaya (Kalanchevskaya St 21/40; 495-627-5550) in one of iconic Soviet era towers, renovated to Hilton standards, a short walk to Leningradskiy Rail Station and easy access to Red Square and the Kremlin.
Hotel Akvarel (Stoleshnikov Alley 12, Bldg 3; 495-502-9430), stylish business-class lodgings at center of cultural district; 23 pleasant and quiet rooms each with satellite TV, internet and all amenities.
Hotel Budapest (Petrovskie Linii 2/18; 495-925-3050) at heart of Moscow in neo-classic building, a few streets from Red Square, St Basil's Cathedral, the Bolshoi, and Okhotny Riad shopping.
Napoleon Hostel (Maly Zlatoustinskiy St, Dom 2; 495-628-6695) central location in the trendy Kitai Gorod district of cobblestone alleys, old merchant houses and tiny churches, 5 minutes walk from Red Square and the Kremlin. Friendly multi-lingual staff on hand 24 hours, with information, train and theater tickets and taxi assistance.
Nova House (Devyatkin pereulok 4, apt. 6; 495 623-4659) on quiet street in beautiful pre-revolutionary building in old Kitai Gorod preserved district, four minutes walk from metro station. Bicycles, internet access, comfortable common rooms, kitchen, and staff assistance with travel and visa needs.
Trans-Siberian Hostel (Barashevskiy pereulok 12; 495 916-2030), Lonely Planet: "you won't find a private room at this price anywhere else in Central Moscow." Mixed 4, 6 and 8 bed dorms, twins and triples, breakfast included, multi-lingual staff, full services, ten minutes walk from Kitai Gorod.
Rooms by the hour
For many reasons it may be best not to take a new friend to your hotel. These two places provide somewhere to be discreet:
Iskushenie (Rozhdestvensky bulvar 16, bldg 1; Metro: Turgenevskaya; 495-924-8832); and
Pogosti (15, oulitsa Yaroslavskaya kor. 7, number 500; 495-109-0705).
A few Moscow restaurants
Art Garbage / Zapasnik (Starosadsky pereulok 5; Metro: Kitay Gorod), in a comfy nook of Kitai-Gorod the Moscow Union of Artists has home-like setting and hearty eclectic food, from meat and potatoes to buffalo wings, Mexican pancakes, pasta and chinese noodle dishes. Desserts aren't neglected either, prices are reasonable, and they have live music twice a week.
Bookafe (Sadovaya-Samotyochnaya 13; Metro: Tsvetnoi Bulvar), intimate coffeeshop and bookstore, with arts crowd, open all-hours selling books on fashion, photography, architecture and gay erotic art in English, German and French. Food selections range from sandwiches and snacks to crepes, pizzas and fettuccini Alfredo; also with breakfast menu.
Cafe des Artistes (Kamergersky pereulok 5/6; Metro: Teatralnaya), high-end restaurant and art exhibition gallery with works of local and international artists and photographers.
Cafe Margarita (oulitsa Malaya Bronnaya 28; Metro: Mayakovskaya), warm and cozy, fun and unpretentious ambience of book-lined walls, and classically trained musicians playing upbeat tunes. Full bar, and Russian food with pan-Euro influences includes blini and borsch.
Cafe Pushkin (Tverskoy Blvd. 26A; Metro: Pushkinskaya) open around the clock for gourmet Mediterranean and Russian cuisine, breakfast, lunch and dinner; meat, fish, soups, salads and vegetarian; wine list, beer on tap, grand piano music, summer roof terrace.
Correa's (Bolshaya Ordynka
Zamoskvorechie 40/2) chef Isaac Correa of Puerto-Rican New York background pioneered this Muscovite favorite fusion cuisine, amid a rich aroma of fresh coffee, tomatoes, basil and olive oil. Breakfast muffins, pancakes and cereals; veggie options, deli fare and great desserts; now with five locations.
Darbar Restaurant (Leninsky prospekt 38, off Hotel Sputnik lobby) the area's most authentic Indian food at reasonable prices with English-language menu.
Goodman Steakhouse (Novinsky bulvar 31, Barrikadnaya; Metro: Krasnopresnenskaya), classic American-style setting with low lighting, retro music, wall photos, and leather couches; authentic and not inexpensive Australian and New Zealand beef steaks, English-language menu.
Gorki (1st Tverskaya-Yamskaya St 3), plush old-style Soviet chic setting, Sicilian chef's offerings range from Russian cuisine of caviar and beef stroganoff, to Italian pastas, meat and fish; extensive dessert selections, good service.
Jagannath Vegetarian Restaurant (Kuznetsky Most St 1; Metro: Kuznetsky Most), funky cafe/buffet restaurant, predominantly vegan, and health food store with bulk items, at moderate prices, but English hardly spoken at all.
Bolshoi Theatre (Teatralnaya pl 1, City Center; Metro: Teatralnaya) fine opera all year, best ballet from September when world-touring stars return.
The Moscow State Circus is comprised of two separate branches: the
Prospekt Vernadskovo (prospekt Vernadskovo 7; Metro: Universitet) with classic Russian circus known for clowns and animal acts; and the Nikulin Circus (Tsvetnoy bulvar 13; Metro: Tsvetnoy Bulvar) with acrobats and trapeze artists, jugglers, tightrope walkers, and performing animals.
St. Basil's Cathedral ( Krasnaya Ploshchad -Red Square; Metro: Ploshchad Revolutsii) commissioned by Ivan the Terrible to commemorate the victory over the Golden Horde; with it's onion domes of spiraling colors this is still the most distinctive icon of all Russia. Open 11am to 5:30pm.
Pushkin Fine Arts Museum (oulitsa Volkhonka 12, Kropotkinskaya), six building of galleries, exhibits include the Troy Gold, top works by Van Gogh, Gauguin, Picasso, Dufrenoy and Matisse, plus the December Evenings of classics, among other music festivals.
Info & Resources
For good online sources of news and listings see
Gay Russia, and Gay.ru.
Moscow Times, is an English-language daily give-away paper with updated information of the constantly changing nightclub and restaurant scene, local news, and lots of useful advice on getting around.
Two good websites in English,
Go-To.ru, or the official Moscow Metro web page can provide help with what may be the easiest means of getting around. Note that while many clubs stay open until 6am, the Metro closes at 1am.
Moscow for more listings in the Russian capital city.
St. Petersburg for listings in the old capital of the Czars.